Yoga helps strengthen, stretch and tone your quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. Before you begin, be sure to pay attention to your feet in your poses and keep your weight distributed evenly on both the inner and outer parts of feet. Lift and spread your toes to engage your leg muscles. Here are the best poses to perform to benefit your legs.
Forward Bends: Standing forward bend lengthens your hamstrings and calf muscles. If your leg muscles feel extra-tight in this pose, you should bend your knees slightly. For a deeper calf stretch, place a rolled sticky mat or rug under the balls of your feet and keep your heels on the floor. The wide-legged forward bend also works the muscles in your feet and ankles, but you need to make sure you keep your feet firmly grounded.
Lunges: Lunges stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles while strengthening your legs overall. From forward bend, step your leg back and bend your front knee so your thigh is parallel to the floor. You should try and keep your back leg lifted. For an added quad stretch, just lower your back knee to the floor ( You can fold over your mat for extra padding), lift your back shin and hold your foot with your hand. For an additional hamstring stretch, keep your back knee on the floor and stretch your front leg out straight, while placing your heel on the floor and flexing your foot. Repeat these variations on the other side.
Chair Pose: This pose works your hamstrings, quadriceps and back calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus. From a standing position, reach your seat back and down so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then, engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine and keep your chest lifted. From here, raise your arms overhead while relaxing your shoulders. Make sure your knees reach toward your middle toes, instead of turning in or out.
Downward-Facing Dog: This stretch is especially effective for your gluteal muscles and the backs of your legs. You must bend your knees, reach your inner thighs back and scoop your tailbone as you slowly straighten your legs. Then press firmly into the balls of your feet and reach your heels back and down to work your calf muscles and hamstrings. It’s okay if your heels aren’t touching the floor. Then lift one leg up into downward-dog split, keeping your opposite foot pressed to the floor. Repeat this on the other side.
Legs Up the Wall Pose: This pose will let your legs rest while gently stretching them supplies your organs with fresh blood, circulates lymph fluid, calms your mind, regulates blood pressure and relaxes your body. Sit on a folded blanket and swing your legs straight up the wall. Lie back and stretch your arms out to your sides. Hold this pose for at least 5 minutes. This is a great pose for tired and swollen legs.